10 Things You Must Do If You're Having a Tented Wedding

There's much more to it than meets the eye.

A white tent at a summer wedding reception in the evening on a lush, green lawn surrounded by trees.

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

There are plenty of reasons brides, grooms, and planners love tented weddings—the ambiance, the cozy feeling, the air of intimacy, and having the whole party (and all the wedding décor) safe and protected from the elements. But setting up this kind of wedding structure is nothing like putting together the tent you and your fiancé use when you go camping. It takes a lot of work and requires ample preparation and planning—logistically and financially.

There are lots of details that must be taken into consideration before making the decision to opt for a tented wedding. For example, if you love the look of a clear-top tent (the see-through structure is great at bringing the outdoors in at your event) keep in mind that it acts as a greenhouse of sorts, trapping warm air and potentially wilting your wedding flowers.

In order to plan accordingly and avoid any mishaps, you can get started on planning your own canopied big day by taking note of these 10 must-know facts about wedding tents.

1. Plan for a Hefty Bill

Renting a tent is expensive (generally starting around $1,500 for 100 guests), and you're also responsible for the cost of all the other rentals, décor, and equipment it takes to turn the space into an inviting atmosphere for the wedding or reception. Make sure that the tent cost is one of the first costs that you consider during your initial budget planning conversation.

A bride and groom during their wedding ceremony in the desert under a clear top tent.

Photo by Sydney Noelle Photography

2. Pick a Model

Take into consideration not only what you want to achieve aesthetically, but also important aspects such as the weather, décor, and functionality of the space. This all starts with the model. Pole tents have peaks created by center beams and the covering is usually made from vinyl or sailcloth. Structure and frame tents, on the other hand, have an open steel shell that can support heavy equipment like big speakers. Clear-top tents are sleek and modern, offering views of the surrounding landscape (but you'll want to keep in mind the greenhouse effect).

3. Find the Right Spot

Focus on the view and the scale of the tent in relation to the surroundings—it shouldn't swallow the entire plot of land. And don't forget to find a flat surface at least 10 feet from any building (for the ten stakes).

Keep in mind the tent entrances and exits, and where they are in proximity to bathrooms and other venue spaces (like a hotel or house) so that guests flow in and out of the tent area with ease.

4. Know Your Venue's Rules Before You Book

Can you stake directly into the ground? Are there noise restrictions (there probably are)? When can you start setting up? That last one's crucial because putting together a tent can take anywhere from one to four days.

5. Reserve It Early

Rental companies have a limited supply of styles and sizes, so book one as soon as you finalize your date and have a good idea of the guest count—no later than six months before the wedding is our recommendation.

A clear top wedding tent is lit up with hanging, woven light fixtures and string lights in Laguna Beach.

Photo by Anna Jones Photography

6. Get the Proper Size

A tent that's too big or too small can mess up the flow and vibe of your party. As a general rule, figure 18 square feet of tent per person for a seated dinner and dancing.

If you're worried that your tent might be too big for your party size, add warm lighting (think large candles on the floor or hanging lights). This can make a massive tent appear cozy and intimate, especially if you lack the headcount to fill out the space. Plus, the ambiance of a warmly lit tent will photograph beautifully.

A white pole tent next to palm trees in front of a stormy sky at a wedding in Florida

Photo by Jacqui Cole

7. Have a Rain Plan—and Don't Forget the Walls

In perfect weather, you can leave a tent open (meaning no walls). But if you need to keep the outdoor elements outside, have wall paneling ready, along with a plan that can be put into action quickly. If you don't have a planner or on-site coordinator, it's wise to have specific people ready to help set this up if the weather changes.

8. Consider Flooring

While grass is your cheapest option when it comes to flooring, you might not want to worry about if anyone ruining their heels. Plan to cover the ground with wood flooring, sisal carpet, or Astroturf (an affordable option) in a neutral hue as an alternative. And don't forget about the dance floor!

9. Think Critically About the Temperature

Trust us: Nothing is worse than being trapped inside a tent with no air conditioning in August. Depending on your wedding date, you may need air conditioners, fans, or heat lamps to keep everyone comfortable and happy.

10. Do a Sound Check

Music will be nice and loud on the dance floor, but what about during cocktail hour and dinner? Have your DJ or band do a test run before the event to ensure that guests way over there can hear everything, too. You'll also want to do a trial for speeches to ensure the mics are loud enough (and not too loud).

Related Stories